Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Clement meeting oil executives today in Denver and more big news on the meat recall

Illustrating once more that there's always more to a Harper government official explanation of why they're doing something, not less:
...[H]is key meeting was to come before his departure Wednesday, when he chairs a closed-door discussion on energy security with American oil and gas company executives in Denver.

'We're one of the greatest energy producers in the world, as the prime minister said we're an energy superpower. We should be here,' Mr. Clement said."
"We've got to get our message out better about the value of the oil sands. For the first time in history it's the Stephen Harper government that is putting mandatory caps with a trading system for emissions from the oil sands," said Mr. Clement.

"We've got something that we can market to the Americans, saying hey, we're doing our job with the oil sands and other emissions, and we want to work with you to curb emission too."
The Health Minister is marketing the oil sands while these are the kinds of headlines gracing the country: "Tainted meat deaths hit 15," "We need answers to questions about the listeria outbreak," "Meat retailers besieged by listeria inquiries." The priorities of the Harper government are being shown to be sorely misguided once again. It's almost obscene to hear Clement prattle on about the oil sands when he's the Health Minister in a country facing this food scare and the response by the federal government is still being questioned.

And there's still another big development on the meat recall file today. Apparently the plans to let industry police themselves have been in place since March, according to a Globe report this morning.
...the federal agency responsible for food safety this year began to let the industry conduct its own food testing, The Globe and Mail has learned.

A leaked cabinet document that outlined plans for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to give the food industry a greater role in the inspection process raised the ire of opposition politicians last week.

However, some of the plans have been in place since March 31, according to a CFIA manager and an official from the union that represents the federal inspectors.

At the Maple Leaf plant behind the listeria outbreak, a single federal inspector was relegated to auditing company paperwork and had to deal with several other plants, the manager and the union official said, contradicting the impression that officials had left last week that full-time watchdogs were on-site.

Under the new system, federal inspectors do random product tests only three or four times a year at any given plant. And meat packers are required to test each type of product only once a month.

Under the old system, inspectors had a more hands-on role on the plant floor, did more of the tests themselves and had more freedom to investigate, said former CFIA inspector Bob Kingston, who is national president of the Agriculture Union, a branch of the Public Service Alliance of Canada.

Life just got a lot worse for the Harper government. This information directly contradicts the comments of Mr. Harper yesterday who was talking up his government having put more resources and inspectors into the system. Those comments just obscure the real story here. The new meat inspection rules that the Harper government has kept secret are in fact in place and they've caused a major disaster.

Wow. I do believe their time is up.